New romance – Decatur author publishes 1st novel
By Ralph Ellis, contributor
Nicki Salcedo loves romance novels because “a romance is always the story of impossibilities. In the end you know everybody will be happy.”
Her first novel, “All Beautiful Things,” has a happy ending. It’s a romance set in the Atlanta area and sprinkled with local sites, such as the lake at Piedmont Park, a downtown homeless shelter, and a Decatur art gallery.
Salcedo was born in Jamaica and grew up in Stone Mountain. After graduating from Redan High she attended Stanford University and studied creative writing. She met her husband, lawyer Steven Salcedo, in California and they moved to Decatur about 10 years ago because of the school system.
Taking care of four kids, ages 3-10, and holding down a job as a strategic account executive for United Health Group makes it a challenge to find writing time, she said.
“Now a lot of it happens on the weekend,” she said. “I write at soccer games, while my kids are at piano lessons, while I wait in the doctor’s office.”
Salcedo wrote the first draft to “All Beautiful Things” in a few months while pregnant with her second child, “then I spent the next eight years revising it.”
The plot is based on the “Beauty and the Beast,” but with role reversals. In this tale, the woman is the beast.
Ava Camden, a beautiful young woman from a wealthy and powerful African-American family, is full of hatred after being horribly slashed in the face outside an Atlanta restaurant. Her ruthless father railroads the only suspect, a white man on the cusp of a pro football career. The man’s brother, wealthy hotelier Graham Sapphire, tries to clear his name and Ava meets and falls in love with him.
Numerous publishers rejected the manuscript until Belle Bridge Books in Memphis picked it up. Deborah Smith, the editor in chief, said she likes the way Salcedo handles settings.
“Nicki … picks up on the ghosts ‘Under the Under’ of the old mansions and the tenements and the vanished railroad tracks and the invisible wealth that runs under all the glitter and sorrow,” Smith said in an email.
Though a romance lover, Salcedo declares herself “the least romantic person you’ll meet.” Her husband confirms she’d rather watch football than be showered with roses.
“We often celebrate wedding anniversaries with little more than a high-fives or a fist-bump,” Steven Salcedo, a lawyer, said in an email. “She doesn’t do flowers or jewelry or teddy bears. Valentine’s day is for amateurs and school children.”
Still, Salcedo loves reading romances and supports the industry. She’s a past president of the state chapter of the Romance Writers of America and won a couple of RWA prizes – Maggies in 2009 and 2010.
She’s also invested in Decatur. A publisher is looking at a second novel titled “Pine,” a coming of age story set in a small Southern town, and she’s working on children’s stories set in place much like Decatur.